Duct Cleaning: Essential for Facility Maintenance and HVAC Performance
Over time, as heated and cooled air circulates through your commercial facility, particulates and other contaminants can accumulate in the ductwork. In the off seasons, insects and small animals may use the ductwork as a place to build nests. Settling dust and other material can build up at the vents and registers and in the ductwork immediately beyond. A regular program of duct cleaning can ensure these problems are resolved and that your indoor air is as fresh and clean as possible.
Effects of Dirty Ducts
Dirty ductwork can cause multiple effects in your commercial facility:
- Decreased indoor air quality that can include odors.
- Increased amounts of dust, pollen, mold, and other particulates in the air.
- More dust and particles settling on shelves, equipment, merchandise, and other objects.
- Discomfort among employees and customers related to poor air quality, including coughing, sneezing, irritation of eyes and noses, and increased possibilities of allergy or asthma attacks.
- Need for more frequent HVAC system air filter changes.
- Reductions in HVAC system performance and efficiency tied to dirty components and filters that get dirty more often.
Recommendations for Duct Cleaning
Many sources recommend annual duct cleanings to correspond with HVAC system maintenance. This is a practical schedule, but you should be willing to consider more frequent duct cleanings if, for example, your commercial activities tend to produce more particulates or contaminants that could accumulate in your ductwork.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends duct cleaning when:
- There is visible mold growing in the ductwork, on HVAC system components, or elsewhere within the HVAC system.
- Material has built up within the ductwork to such an extent that it blocks airflow and interferes with HVAC equipment operation.
- Ducts are contaminated with biological material from insects and animals.
The EPA finds no scientific evidence that duct cleaning prevents or alleviates any particular health or respiratory issue. However, if material in the ductwork is causing any issues among employees or customers in your commercial building, it makes sense that the material should be removed and the ducts cleaned up.
How Are Ducts Cleaned?
Duct cleaning should begin with a careful inspection of your ductwork system by your cleaning professional. This inspection allows the cleaning technician to determine how dirty the ducts are and how extensive the contamination has become. It will also allow a determination of duct condition and will reveal if there are any loose or missing duct segments. The inspection should also involve checking seals at ductwork sections to ensure they are intact. If there are any problems with the ductwork, they should be corrected before cleaning begins.
The cleaning itself may be performed by one of two processes, or a combination:
- Pressure cleaning — Pressure cleaning sends pressurized air into the ductwork to loosen and remove debris. This will blow debris through the ductwork and out at a specified vent. All other supply vents and return registers should be sealed to aid this process.
- Vacuum cleaning — This process involves attaching a vacuum hose to a vent and using the power of the vacuum to pull debris and material out of the ducts. Stubborn accumulations are often broken up with compressed air blasts. This procedure should also be done with vents and registers sealed.
Ask your local HVAC specialist for a recommendation for a duct cleaner. Your HVAC pro might offer the service as part of system maintenance. Also look for duct cleaners who have credentials from organizations such as NADCA, the National Air Duct Cleaners Association.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about Plumbing, HVACR, Fire Protection, and Alarm Systems in Mechanical, Commercial, and Residential settings. For more information on duct cleaning and how it can improve indoor air quality and boost HVAC system performance, and to view projects we’ve worked on, visit our website!
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